Committee preps for superintendent search

HOLLIS -With candidate interviews set to begin in less than two weeks, the Hollis/Brookline superintendent search committee met Tuesday to iron out a list of interview questions for the wannabe future leaders of School Administrative Unit 41.

Current Superintendent Ken DeBenedictis announced last December that he would retire at the end of the school year from the post he has held since 1995. Since then, the SAU School Board, which is made up of board members from the SAU’s three districts, appointed a search committee to deal with the task of selecting a replacement. The committee is made up of school board members, district administrators, teachers and residents of the two communities.

The committee went over more than a dozen questions Tuesday to try and isolate queries that would help reveal the character and credentials of superintendent candidates. At the heart of most of these questions were issues like leadership style, the candidates’ vision for school curriculum and how the candidate handles day-to-day school business.

A pamphlet advertising the vacancy said the future head of SAU 41 would be overseeing districts with a combined student population of about 2,700 and a combined budget of about $29 million. The superintendent would have 227 professional staff and 150 support staff working under him or her.

The districts plan to offer a three-year contract with a salary range between $105,000 and $130,000. DeBenedictis, who has 14 years of experience as a superintendent and a total of 40 years in education, is currently the highest paid superintendent in the state. According to the New Hampshire Dept. of Education, DeBenedictis will be paid $124,583 in 2004/2005.

Julie Mook, committee co-chairwoman, reported Tuesday that about 25 requests for information on the position have come in to Ray Raudonis, an education consultant with the New England School Development Council, who is working with SAU 41 on the search.

Screening of the interested candidates is scheduled to begin Dec. 15 and continue until the position is filled.